Genesee County reports first case of Legionnaires' disease in 2016

Posted at 3:09 PM, Jul 06, 2016

The Genesee County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services say they have confirmed the first case of Legionnaires' disease in that county this year.

The individual is an older adult male, and is currently hospitalized.

So far there has been nothing to indicate that the individual was exposed within the city of Flint.

GCHD and MDHHS are working to quickly investigate this first confirmed case in Genesee County for 2016 to identify where the resident may have been exposed, as well as to ensure follow up on any additional cases.

While this is the first case this year, officials say there are usually between nine to 11 cases in Genesee County a year. Cases spiked in 2014-2015, when there were 91 reported cases and 12 deaths in the county.

As of July 6th, 2016, officials say there have been 65 cases of Legionnaires' in Michigan this year.

Legionnaires' disease is a kind of pneumonia, or infection of the lungs. It can lead to complications if not treated quickly. Individuals can get Legionnaires' disease by breathing in small drops of water (mist) that contain the Legionella bacteria. It does not spread from one person to another, and you cannot get Legionnaires' disease from drinking water. However, you might be exposed if water goes down the airway.

Most healthy people will not get sick after being exposed to Legionella, but being 50 years old or older increases the chances of getting sick. Other risk factors include being a former or current smoker, having chronic lung disease, or having a weakened immune system from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure. Legionnaires' disease is not common in children.

Legionella bacteria occur naturally in freshwater, such as lakes and streams. Some large water systems can grow Legionella bacteria if they are not properly maintained.

Legionaires' disease begins with flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, muscle aches, and chills). In some people more serious symptoms can develop in less than two days. These more drastic symptoms include, high ever, dry cough, difficulty breathing, chest pains, chills, and diarrhea.

Legionnaires’ disease can be treated effectively using antibiotics, which work best if they are given early on in the illness. In most instances, people with Legionnaires’ disease will need treatment in the hospital.